Where is Holmegate? It’s just ten minutes from the romantic wash of the waves at Lulworth Cove, 20 minutes from the fine sands and watersports of Studland Bay and close to the rocks and fossils of Kimmeridge Bay. In reality, though, you’ll find it in an age of innocence that seems to belong to the pages of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five .
The landscape gently undulates as you draw near along the winding lanes. Beyond the crunch of the gravel, the imposing frontage tells of a grand past and an exciting immediate future for the children. Battle over the eight comfortable bedrooms, unwind in front of a cosy fire, children can swarm over the adventure playground and get giddy over the heated pool.
Kids can invade the games room for table tennis and toys, or the conservatory for air hockey and table football. Wake up in deep, soft linen, slide up the sash and stare out over the nature reserve that runs all the way to Wareham Channel, with its boats and islands. Take the kids. Bring the dogs. It’s all family to us.
Dorset is the ultimate garden. The fields wend their way through sleepy thatched villages to bustling seaside towns and the rocky, romantic Jurassic beaches. But there’s a slice of that English dreamscape right out of the French windows, with the promise of serene seclusion and cricket and croquet on the lawn.
The sun’s out, so let’s celebrate. And where better than in the heated outdoor pool? Dive in with the kids. This is where memories are made. Towel off and explore the nooks and crannies of the garden trails beneath the big skies and the swooping skylarks.
Work up an appetite with pre-prandial strolls or football on the lawn, then light the gas barbie, get the steaks out and toast the rolling hills and the taste of freedom. Unwind under starlit skies.
Spread out, chill out and break out with a book in the expansive spaces at Holmegate. Be apart, be together and be yourselves on comfy sofas in front of roaring fires.
This is a period-features world of grand fireplaces, picture rails and wooden-chest coffee tables. Everything is cosy and comfortable – from the throws on the chairs to the rugs on the floors.
There’s space for 18 here, to read, feed logs onto the fire, watch the flicks on the TV or play family games in the lounge or drawing room. For a view of the rolling gardens, repair to the conservatory.
Kids can let off steam with table tennis in the games room or air hockey and table football in the conservatory. There’s a space, a place and a pace for everyone at Holmegate, the house with big spaces and an even bigger heart.
Pile the pot high and let it simmer in the classic country kitchen. Pick up your fresh mackerel, mullet and scallops at The Salt Pig, then let the Aga belt out the heat and cook up a storm as the air fills with the aroma of fresh produce about to hit the huge oak dining table.
Gather at the table, butter the bread, pour the drinks and chinwag away as you remember the simple beauty of family and friends being together over fine food. If you’re celebrating, let us do the work. Pick the phone up and put your feet up as our chef wades in and even washes up afterwards.
In East Holme, you can cook your own steaks on the Black Grill at The Quay Inn or enjoy hearty, family-friendly fare at The Antelope Inn. Try your luck with the 16oz ribeye at SteakASaurus or tuck into Nepalese nosh at The 29029. Head off for breakfast at The Salt Pig and leave with produce from the deli.
Half an hour away by road but a world apart in quality is Sienna. Celebrate in style at this Michelin-starred Dorchester eaterie. On sunny days, load up at The Salt Pig and gather in the garden to fire up the gas barbie and clink glasses on the terrace as you breathe the clean air and watch the birds swoop over the rolling English hills.
There are eight bedrooms at Holmegate, sleeping 18, each one with beds deeper and dreamier than the last. Windows open onto sweeping greenery as far as the eye can see and night stars that gleam brightly in the clear country skies.
Bedroom one is a superking with an en-suite bath. Bedroom two is also superking-sized, while bedroom three is a superking zip-and-link that converts to twins in a jiffy. Bedroom four is another superking with an en-suite shower room.
Bedrooms five and six are superking doubles or zip-and-link twins. Bedroom seven is ideal for families, with superking and bunk bed. For guestfests, a zed-bed can also be made available.
Bedroom eight, in the wing, again offers zip-and-link conversion. It also comes with its own living room and kitchen, and a downstairs bathroom, too.
Holmegate is the ultimate rural retreat. Whichever bedroom you end up in when the music stops, the only sounds to disturb your sleep will be the sigh of the wind and the wings of the bats.
So it’s down to you to book a house that will keep every generation happy. Holmegate ticks the boxes for kids with activities inside and out that’ll win the day for you and make memories for them.
They’ll dive right in on day one when they see the pool in the garden. If they’re ever done with that, the adventure playground awaits. Before tea, there’s just time for hide-and-seek in the expansive acres, or cricket or croquet on the English lawns.
The fun continues inside. Prepare to be challenged at ping-pong in the games room, or maybe some air hockey or table tennis in the conservatory? Elsewhere, there are ample spaces for cards or charades, or just a family film night in front of the TV and the burning logs.
Holmegate and the Jurassic Coast make a wonderful destination in autumn and winter. There are great walks from the house into East Holme and the countryside around. The Farm Shop at Holme for Gardens has a scrumptious selection of local food and you can pick up fish and shellfish caught fresh each morning from Cove Fish in Lulworth Cove. For a hearty lunch head to one of the many excellent pubs close by.
Kite surfers and windsurfers scud across the water at Studland as you wrap up for a walk on a beautiful, deserted beach. Enjoy golf, shooting and sailing on crisp, clear days. Make the most of Dorset’s many attractions, including the Tank Museum, Corfe Castle and Monkey World, open all year round. Try your hand at baking in the warm, comfortable kitchen or curl up in front of the open fires with a glass of red wine. Holmegate is a haven of comfort, perfect for a winter weekend.